October is a special month for Dwayne Bravo to act up. Honestly.
And as he celebrates his 33rd birthday today, the experienced Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies all-rounder should contemplate a couple significant issues, which have occurred in the month I hold dearly.
Just two years ago, Friday, October 17th (my birthdate) to be precise, Bravo was the West Indies One-Day International (ODI) captain, who led a pull-out midway through the tour to India over player-payment issues with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in their revised contracts.
At that time, the WICB issued a release stating it regretted that in his initial communication to the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Wavell Hinds, Bravo “chose to use inflammatory language and issue a threat to cause injury to West Indies cricket”.
Specifically Bravo wrote: “Please note that we are giving you the opportunity to right this wrong before things deteriorate (sic) to such an extent that West Indies cricket to the wider cricket world looks to fall to its knees again.”
Now last Saturday, October 1, Bravo was at it again. Just back home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he represented West Indies in the three-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan, which was swept by Pakistan, he claimed that the team environment was low-keyed and suggested the players and management were lost.
Before developing the latest story, one recalls that six months ago Bravo branded the WICB as the “most unprofessional board in the world” while describing president Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron as “immature”, “small-minded” and “arrogant”.
That was shortly after West Indies had won the ICC World T20 trophy for a record second time in Kolkata, India. He claimed the team was not even provided with the correct kit for the tournament.
Bravo’s latest outburst was yet again on the “deadly” side, prompting a reaction from team manager Joel Garner.
“I was there in Dubai and basically the players were lost, the management team was lost, everything just looked like we were school kids again, and the team meetings had no sort of positive inputs or anything like that. It was like we were just there,” Bravo said on a Trinidadian radio station.
By Tuesday, the WICB issued a media release just after 4 p.m. quoting Garner, the outstanding former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler, who is also the president of the Barbados Cricket Association. The “Big Bird” yorked Bravo, shattering all three stumps.
“The management of the West Indies team in Dubai is disappointed but not surprised by the comments made in the press by Dwayne Bravo,” Garner said.
“This team was well prepared to engage Pakistan considering the conditions and the adjustments that were necessary to bring meaningful benefits to this team. Whilst change is difficult to manage, none of the players were neglected by the coaching and support staff in the execution of their duties.
“In preparation for this tour, as is customary, the squad assembled in Barbados on September 10 and 11 for physical screening and fitness assessments. Additionally, there was a 7-day build-up to the first Twenty20 match, which included a warm-up.
“The team’s preparation consisted of acclimatization, recovery sessions, strength and conditioning, nets and skill sets, management planning meeting which were supported by video footage of the opposition, bullet point reminders and input from our experienced coaching staff and inclusive of the T20 and ODI captains and the players.
“Mr. Bravo, with prior permission, by the former Head Coach (Phil Simmons), turned up on the day before the first Twenty20 match. His suggestion of disorganisation in the team’s plans and preparation is therefore false and misleading,” Garner stated.
In his radio interview, Bravo also lamented the fact that Simmons was fired the same day the squad was leaving the Caribbean for the UAE. He claimed it affected the entire momentum of the team.
“The honest truth is that it is very difficult for a bunch of 15 guys to really switch on when they are leaving for a series and the day of the team travelling they find out that their head coach was fired. Like which organisation in the world would do things like that? This was a coach that had the support of the entire team and one of the best coaches we have had and he has done so much in a short period. Everyone knows that, and we were making positives,” Bravo said.
He went further. “Without Dwayne Bravo saying anything to the young players, when those guys get there and realise what is going on, their first statement is that their windball team is better organised.”
It has been a rough tour of the UAE for the West Indies. Apart from badly losing the T20 series with a relatively new skipper in Carlos Brathwaite, they were also wiped out in the three-match ODI series under the captaincy of Jason Holder, who leads the side as well in the three-match Test series, which begins October 13.
Now Bravo has again found it convenient to bat like a desperate T20 player, perhaps knowing that his international career is virtually over.
A few years ago he let all and sundry know that his main priority was in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He eventually retired from Test cricket in January 2015 after 40 matches, which brought him exactly 2200 runs including three centuries (ave: 31.42) and 86 wickets (ave: 39.83; Econ 5.41).
His last of 164 ODIs (2968 runs with two centuries; ave: 25.36) and 199 wickets (ave: 29.51; Econ: 5.41) was on the very day he paraded in the Day/Night match at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on October 17, 2014. West Indies lost by 59 runs as India won the series 2-1 with one match remaining.
Bravo also played 66 T20 Internationals, scoring 1142 runs (ave: 24.29) and taking 52 wickets (ave: 28.26; Econ: 8.46).
Now, partisan support for Simmons came through clearly in Bravo’s assertions last Saturday. But he should have also mentioned the whereabouts of Simmons during the camp in Barbados ahead of the tour to the UAE and give details of the special accommodation he was granted by Simmons to arrive in the UAE a day before the series started.
Furthermore, he should have pointed out that Simmons’ predecessor Ottis Gibson was also preparing to travel to Grenada for the start of a home series of three ODIs, two Tests and a one-off Twenty20 International against Bangladesh in August, 2014, when he was stopped in his tracks by way of a telephone call from Cameron, telling him of his sacking.
Was Bravo part of a select few “big men” in the West Indies team, who undermined Gibson?
And just a reminder that Gibson had been the West Indies head coach since February 2010 and had signed a second contract, which was expected to end in February 2016, when compared with Simmons, who was appointed in March 2015 on a three-year contract.
Bravo got mischievous in his interview at the weekend.
“While my passion remains for the game and the sport, and I am always motivated when I take the field, what about those young players who I want to see come through. I no longer have that energy, that zeal to play a part in this type of cricket, and while I speak for myself, I echo the views of most of my teammates. Guys no longer have interest anymore and it is sad to say that at the moment.”
It has been two decades since West Indies have been going through rough waters at the highest level of the game. Despite winning two T20 World Cups, performances in ODIs and Tests continue to hurt.
Bravo again needs to be reminded that there are three sides to a story: yours, the other side, and the truth. He should be wary of what comes from his lips and be told that the “Bird” is a no-nonsense man.
It is time to move on without the Dwayne Bravos of this world.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email:Keithfholder@gmail.com